Forget Your Card? Go Digital!

What kind of payment services do you use?

I had my hair cut by my stylist, Lexi, who has been cutting it for a while, but she recently moved from a salon in my neighborhood to a home salon she built in the basement of her new home. When I scheduled an appointment, she mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to use a credit or debit card anymore as her home salon didn’t have a register like the big salon she had been at before.

I forgot to bring cash or a check—I don’t regularly use either—so Lexi told me I could pay her via Venmo®. I hadn’t used Venmo before, but it took me less than five minutes to set up a Venmo account, add the card I wanted to use, find Lexi on there and send the payment.

Most people know that Venmo is a mobile payment service or digital wallet that allows you to make payments to friends. Venmo has commercials about how easy it is to split a bill with friends at a dinner out or make sure everyone pays their share of gas on a road trip, but it’s really only easy if your friends also use Venmo. It’s easy for Lexi’s customers who are on Venmo, or want to be on Venmo, to pay her that way if they don’t want to use cash or a check. It’s easy to pay for my share when my friend Jessica and I order sushi (Five Sushi Brothers delivers to Provo after our kids are in bed!) and she uses her card to pay for the order, because Jessica and I both use Venmo.

So what about those times when the person you need to pay uses a different service? What about paying someone who doesn’t have a digital wallet? Do you have to get your card out every time you want to buy something from an online retailer?

I use a few different payment solutions, and here are some of the benefits I have found for those that I use regularly.

Venmo—Venmo is really easy to use and is popular. As I mentioned before, a platform is especially easy when your friends use the same service, so its popularity can be important. Once you add your card information, sending and receiving money is easy. You don’t need account numbers, routing numbers, or any special codes to send to your payees.  You don’t have to do anything outside of the platform itself. The platform is easy to use, especially if you use social media, since the platform has a similar look and feel to some social apps.

PayPal®—PayPal is an online payment service that supports sending and receiving money, making online payments and setting up merchant accounts. Here’s my favorite thing about PayPal: many online merchants allow you to pay for goods or services using PayPal, which means that I don’t have to get my card out every time I make an online payment.

I tend to purchase many things online, and the majority of merchants I purchase from allow me to pay through PayPal. That means I don’t have to fill in my billing or shipping address and I’m giving fewer merchants my actual card information, which makes me feel safe.

In addition, a lot of the small, local businesses I need to pay accept PayPal payments. Some pass on PayPal’s fees to me, but there are times it’s worth it. I use PayPal to pay for my daughter’s dance class, because her teacher uses an online portal that supports PayPal and I can pay on-the-spot for dance costumes or supplies.

Person-to-person payments through your bank—I have used Bank of American Fork’s person-to-person payment platform through online banking or the bank’s mobile app. I like it best for sending a payment to someone who doesn’t typically use any online payment service. The receiver doesn’t have to be a Bank of American Fork customer or use any payment service systems. All they need to retrieve the money is their account and routing number and a special phrase that I give to the payee when I set up the payment.

My mother-in-law sends cash and checks through the mail all the time, so when I need to send money to her, I use Bank of American Fork’s person-to-person payments. Since the money is coming through a bank I trust that has real brick and mortar offices near me, my mother-in-law feels comfortable even though she can be wary of technology. The system is easy for me to use since I just need my payee’s name and email. My mother-in-law and younger brother have both told me that retrieving the money was simple.

Bill pay through your bank—I use Bank of American Fork’s bill pay system for every regular payment I make. I set up recurring payments, like my rent check, so that I never miss a payment. Setting up automatic, recurring payments is one of my most financially responsible habits and, for me, one of the most critical features of the bank’s bill pay system.

I also like that I don’t have to give my account or card information to another company. Many utility companies, management companies and lenders have online payment systems that “pull” money from your account. When I can, I like to set up “push” payments, meaning the money is being pushed or sent from my financial institution. This is a personal preference.

If a payee cannot accept electronic payments, the bank mails a check to the payee. This is great for my daughter’s preschool payment. It’s a small preschool that doesn’t accept electronic payments, but setting up a regular payment keeps it off my to-do list. Each month a check is mailed from the bank to the preschool, with information I have included, like my daughter’s name.

Bank of American Fork’s bill pay system is also free.

Apple Wallet, Android Pay™, Samsung Pay™, Google Wallet™—In 2015, one-third of holiday online purchases were made using a smartphone. Chances are, you have made online purchases from your smartphone. Did you have to get your wallet out or was your card information saved to your phone’s online wallet? Online wallets allow you to save your card information to your phone or your phone account and then use the cards similar to the way you use your physical wallet. In addition, many brick and mortar merchants now offer payment via one or more of these systems. You may be able to use your phone’s wallet for shopping from your phone and through Near-Field Communication at a physical merchant.

I like having some of my card information saved on my phone’s mobile wallet to avoid needing a card when I’m doing online errands. Most of us are busy—my kids and work keep me busy—and it’s handy to be able to spend a few minutes in my car before a meeting or while my kids are finishing lunch to finish some errands that would have taken 10 times longer in-person. In addition, many brick and mortar merchants now offer payment via one or more of these systems.

Google Payments—I use Google Chrome™ as my browser when I’m on my computer, whether for work or personal use. I have some card information saved via Google Payments to allow me to quickly check out via an online merchant that requires me to directly fill in my card information on their site. I only use this service on my personal computer, which is an important part of keeping your information safe.

Whatever payment services you use or are considering, remember to practice safe financial habits. Only use card information on your personal computer, create strong passwords for your payment service providers and don’t share them.  Also, remember to regularly check your online banking account for transactions you don’t recognize.


Venmo and PayPal are registered trademarks of PayPal, Inc.

Android Pay, Google Wallet, and Google Chrome are trademarks of Google LLC.

Samsung Pay is a trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

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